Did you know that most people give up on their New Year’s resolutions by February? Apparently 80% of resolutions are abandoned that early on in the year. It’s quite a shocking statistic, but when you think about it, it kinda makes sense. Resolutions are usually just some blanket statement - like ‘work out more’, ‘eat better’ or ‘be more productive’. And the problem with these types of statements is that they’re far too vague, making them hard to stick to.
When resolutions aren’t vague like this, they’re often too ambitious. And setting a goal that’s too high, without any manageable steps, means people fail fast. Think about the resolution to ‘quit smoking’ as an example. For someone who has smoked multiple cigarettes a day for years, this can feel like a huge, daunting task. But if they can commit to only smoking in the evenings, or only having one cigarette a day, they may be able to slowly achieve their goal of stopping altogether.
Change doesn’t often come overnight - sometimes it takes small steps and consistent repetition of actions. That’s why habit forming is so important. Forming small, daily habits leads to huge changes that can change the trajectory of your whole life. That’s certainly been my experience. So here I’m sharing my top 5 things you can do for yourself in 2023 to improve your health and life. Do these things, and you’ll soon start to see a difference in how you feel and how your life feels. And just think where you could be by this time next year!
Perfect your morning routine
Let’s start at the beginning. One of the best ways you can begin to change your life is by developing a morning routine. I say developing because this might take some trial and error - and there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. The ‘perfect’ morning routine looks different for everybody. But everybody can benefit by tailoring their mornings according to what helps them feel good. A good morning routine is all about enabling you to start your day right. What you do in the minutes or hours after waking can have a huge impact on the rest of your day.
So think about the days when you feel best. Is it times when you have got up earlier, or days when you’ve hit the snooze button? Chances are, whether you’re a morning person or not, you feel better when you have some time to yourself in the morning before you have to work or do whatever else is required of you. Your morning routine will involve the basics, like brushing your teeth and washing your face. But you also might want to include a whole skincare routine, some simple stretches, a coffee, or some time spent reading. You might want to give yourself an hour in the morning before you even pick up your phone to avoid getting bombarded with notifications. Maybe you want to fit in a whole gym session. It’s all up to you. But like I said, you can try out different things to see what works. Once you know what does, use that as the blueprint for your mornings and see how much it changes your entire life!
Take up meditation
No list of healthy habits would be complete without a mention of meditation.Your mental health is the most important thing, and meditating is probably the best thing you can introduce into your life if you’re hoping to improve your outlook. Meditation gives you the opportunity to really get in touch with yourself. To slow down and listen. It’s in these quiet moments you’ll likely find your greatest insights - whether it’s realizations about yourself, or creative ideas. Meditation is not only amazing for getting the creative juices flowing, positively impacting your career or personal projects. It’s also great for your mental health, reducing stress and anxiety.
And the best thing about it is this tool is absolutely free. If you haven’t tried it before, try and commit to 10 minutes a day for a week and see how it goes. After that, you might decide to do 10 minutes in the morning, and 10 before bed. Or a 20 minute lunchtime session. Or an hour-long session whenever you can fit it in. There are no rules! Again, it’s about finding what works for you. There are also different types of mediation, from mindfulness meditation and visualization meditation, to transcendental meditation or mantra meditation. So try a few different ones and see what you prefer. And don’t forget there are many free guided meditations online if you’re not sure where to start.
Make time for movement
Just as you should work on your mind daily, it’s also super important to work on your physical health too. Not everybody is naturally drawn towards exercise - but trust there is something out there for everyone! You might find you commit to physical activity better when you have to go to a place such as the gym and it’s just a scheduled part of your day. Or perhaps you’ll do better with home workouts, whether it’s weight training, or yoga or pilates. You don’t need to do this kind of exercise every single day if that feels too much, but you should try and incorporate some kind of movement into your day. This is where walking comes in! It’s recommended that people get around 10k steps daily, and although you’ll cover some of that going about your normal day-to-day life, you’ll need to schedule in a walk or two as well to hit that target. Especially if you work from home, it can happen that you movement slows down, since you tend to spend more time in the comfort of your home. But physical exercise has a positive impact on how you look and, therefore, your self-esteem. But also on your general physical health, as well as your mental health. When you exercise you produce endorphins (happy hormones!) that boost your mood - so why wouldn’t you do it every day?!
Improve your relationship with food
Another thing that affects your physical and mental health a lot is what you put into your body. Many people have ‘eat better’ as one of their New Year’s resolutions. But the problem with that goal is it’s too vague. Plus, improving your relationship with food it’s just about eating salads and nothing else. To have a great relationship with food, the aim isn’t to restrict yourself or label some foods as forbidden. You can still eat cake! Cake isn’t inherently bad. What can be bad is the amount of cake you eat, or the frequency. So improving your relationship with food is all about being honest with yourself, and knowing when it’s ok to say yes to indulging in the ice cream sundae, and when you should be opting for something more nutritional.
As I said earlier, healthy eating it’s just salads and vegetables. And everybody is different. Food affects different bodies differently. So why not start a food diary? You don’t need to invest in an expert nutritionist to improve your relationship with food. You can start by yourself. Write down what you eat each day and how it makes you feel. You should be able to pick up on some patterns and learn what works for you. Then you can tailor your diet accordingly. You might want to experiment with different diets, such as keto, or veganism. Or perhaps you’ll try out intermittent fasting. Personally, I’ve found this to be very beneficial. Just make sure you do your research first!
Optimize your sleep
We started this blog talking about what you will do at the beginning of your day. Now let’s talk about the end. You probably know that getting enough sleep is important for you to be able to function at your fullest - but I cannot stress this enough. So many important bodily functions take place throughout the night when you’re sleeping. Sleep supports your brain development, physical recovery and repair, cardiac function, your metabolism, as well as improves your memory and mood. So getting enough sleep is vital to living a healthier, happier life. It’s recommended we get 8 hours of good quality sleep each and every night. So the first thing you can do is make sure you are giving yourself enough time between when you go to bed and when you need to wake up. You can also make sure you are winding down properly before bed, to ensure you get to sleep quickly. That might mean not looking at your phone or other screens after 9 pm to avoid blue light, taking a bath or shower before bed, or reading a book. If you’re really interested in optimizing your sleep, you could try out one of the many sleep tracker apps to measure how well you are sleeping and what you need to improve on. But there are also simple things you can do, like making sure the room is dark and cool enough, and making sure your bed is nice and comfortable.
Remember it’s all about finding what works for you, and sticking to it. Wishing you an awesome 2023.